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“We have received many reports from family physicians as far away as Massachusetts and California who are hampered in their efforts to provide high-quality care for Katrina victims because they do not have the patients’ medical histories and medication lists,” said Mary Frank, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The Leawood, Kan., group, which represents 94,000 doctors, said the natural disaster may force the health care industry to finally adopt a universal standard for transmitting and receiving medical-record files.

The “Health Care” column runs every Friday. Call Marguerite Higgins at 202/636-4892.

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